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Egypt's military moves to allay fears of instability

Story highlights

  • Cabinet posts will be offered to the Muslim Brotherhood, Salafists
  • The decree would grant Adly Mansour limited legislative powers
  • No deadline is set for the announcement of a new government
  • The declaration outlines a timetable for parliamentary and presidential elections

Egyptian Armed Forces sought Tuesday to portray itself as a stabilizing force fully capable of handling the anger and unrest that have divided the nation less than a week after overthrowing the first democratically elected president.

"Destruction of public property or the stability of the state will not be tolerated," the military said in an audio statement broadcast on state television. "A constitutional declaration has been issued and the road to transition is clear, so people should feel secure."

The announcement came a day after 51 people were killed in clashes between the Muslim Brotherhood and the military over the ouster of former President Mohamed Morsy and as the fledgling new government announced it had filled key roles.

Hazem El-Beblawi, a liberal economist who was finance minister and deputy prime minister, will serve as the interim prime minister; Mohamed ElBaradei, the Nobel Peace Prize-winning diplomat, will serve as interim vice president, it said.

Cabinet posts also will be offered to the Muslim Brotherhood's political wing, the Freedom and Justice Party, as well as to the Salafist al-Nour Party, MENA, Egypt's official news agency, reported.

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    The military's projection of confidence contrasted with the mood that surrounded a demonstration outside the Raba'a Al-Adawiya Mosque in Cairo, where thousands of people packed a square, some of them waving the country's red, white and black flag and others holding aloft pictures of Morsy.

    The Brotherhood's highest official of religious law said Tuesday he does not recognize the authority of the nation's interim president and will not negotiate until Morsy regains power.

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    After that happens, "we will have a national and comprehensive reconciliation in which all the problems can be discussed over a negotiation table but through a prior constitution," Grand Mufti Abdulruhman Albir told the Reuters news agency.

    He said he recognized neither last week's military coup nor any of the moves by those who have seized power. "Therefore, there is no need to speak about any decrees, because they were issued by people without authority."

    Albir was referring to Interim President Adly Mansour, who had issued a constitutional declaration giving himself limited power to make laws and outlined a timetable for parliamentary and presidential elections, according to state media.

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    There was no official word on the decree from the president's office.

    If the state media reports are accurate, the 33-article decree would grant Mansour limited legislative powers after consultation with a cabinet, which would wield veto power.

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    The decree also would lay out a timeline for voting on an amended constitution and for holding parliamentary and president ballots.

    The declaration calls for a constitutional referendum in November, followed by parliamentary elections in December and a presidential poll in February.

    Without confirmation from the president's office, it is impossible to say whether the reports -- carried by state-run Al-Ahram and MENA -- are accurate.

    Also on Tuesday, funerals were held for the victims of clashes between the Brotherhood and security forces on Monday -- the deadliest day in Cairo since the revolution that forced then-President Hosni Mubarak from office in 2011.

    The interim Egyptian government announced Tuesday that it would investigate the violence.

    The White House has refused to describe as a coup the military's ouster of Morsy, who was reportedly being held under arrest at the Republican Guard headquarters. Doing so would require the United States to suspend its $1.3 billion in annual military aid to Egypt.

    When is a coup not a coup?

    It is in the interest of the United States and the Egyptian people "in their transition to democracy to take the time necessary to evaluate the situation before making such a determination," White House spokesman Jay Carney said Tuesday.

    But he added that U.S. officials were "cautiously encouraged" that the interim government's plan "includes a return to democratically elected government that includes presidential and parliamentary elections."

    In response to a question, State Department spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki told reporters that, "broadly speaking," the administration still believes that continuing military aid is a U.S. national security priority.

    But Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, has called for a suspension of military aid to Egypt.

    Some financial heavyweights in the region have offered financial assistance of their own. Saudi Arabia's finance minister said the kingdom has pledged $5 billion in grants and loans to the interim government, according to the official Saudi news agency SAPA, and the United Arab Emirates will give $1 billion to Egypt and lend it another $2 billion as an interest-free central bank deposit, state news agency WAM reported Tuesday.